Lessons Learned from the Founder of an Internet Start-up

Founder2be.comEver had an idea for a business? You think about this idea and share it with your close family and friends but after careful consideration realize you don’t have the skills or resources necessary to make it happen? Or has this idea been crushed by your cynical friends, haters who are jealous and skeptical that your idea won’t flourish? Alternatively, more often than not, life’s responsibilities become too much and this idea of yours gets pushed to the back-burner…indefinitely.

Meet Oliver Bremer and his start-up, Founder2be.com. Since the beginning of this year, he and his co-founder have poured in hundreds of hours of sweat equity to create a destination where people with different skill sets can find each other to create a new wave of start-ups. The genesis of Founder2be took shape this spring and grew rapidly. In a Skype conversation with Oliver, he acknowledged that start-ups typically face similar obstacles in the beginning: acting on an idea by putting together a great team and daring yourself to take the plunge and start.

Thanks to Founder2be, those looking to build start-ups now have a much wider group of people to connect with. In short, Founder2be expands the set of potential co-founder candidates for those in the market for co-founders. I asked Oliver how he positions Founder2be and how he differentiates his idea from meet-up events such as FounderDating and Startup Weekend. Before diving into his response, here’s the skinny on entrepreneur meet-ups:

FounderDating is an event in San Francisco and Seattle that “is designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs meet potential co-founders and hone their business ideas.” (Inc., April 2011) Startup Weekend is a more rigorous litmus test for those entrepreneurs looking to take their ideas and turn them into businesses. These weekends challenge aspiring entrepreneurs to work together to develop new businesses in three days. Since 2009, Startup Weekend events, now held in more than 120 cities worldwide, have spawned more than 180 companies.

How is Founder2be Different than FounderDating and Startup Weekends?

Oliver explains that Founder2be shares many commonalities with these types of events and that they co-exist and complement each other, rather than serve as direct competition. Founder2be allows users to meet potential co-founders 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from the comfort of your home, dorm room, office…wherever you have an internet connection. Founder2be also allows users to remain anonymous and reveal your identity only when you wish to meet in-person…two points of differentiation from start-up conferences.

Meeting others online has proven to be an enormous market…a $1 billion a year market. Match.com, the largest online dating site in the world, offers a relevant example of how an online business seamlessly co-exists with brick and mortar establishments. In fact, those meeting online take their relationships to restaurants and bars, the very places where singles met pre-Internet. Oliver then poses the question, “why wouldn’t it be possible to take the first step and meet a co-founder online?”

“We are not so naive to believe that meeting someone online guarantees you success” Oliver says. “Far from it, just like with Match.com, I recommend you actually meet the person before getting married” he jokes. Armed with this knowledge, Founder2be began partnering early on with organizations supporting innovation and entrepreneurship that have a presence in the real world. In just 3 months, they created the Global Alliance Program, an impressive roster of incubators, student entrepreneurship organizations and accelerators spanning four continents.

How has Founder2be grown and how will it be scaled?

Founder2be is a two man start-up with its co-founders located in Germany and Finland. Growth has been almost exclusively via word of mouth. “People sign-up, most of them seem to like what they see, and they go and tell their friends,” explains Oliver. On the other side of the coin, the partners in the Global Alliance Program help spread the word and benefit from its growth…a win-win for both parties.

In less than six months since launching, two groups have met through Founder2be and are busy working on their start-ups. As more success stories emerge, momentum will build, users will share their stories and the news will travel further. Already, the United States is Founder2be’s biggest market, an indication of two facts: 1.) The U.S.’s insatiable desire for entrepreneurship and 2.) The amazing reach and growth opportunity of an online business.

Why Not Me?

Oliver readily admits that if he can do this, anyone can, “if I can build a start-up, then anybody can do it.” You only need the will to do it and the right co-founder. Founder2be helps you with the latter part of this equation. With the former, you have to work up the courage to address your desires and act on them.”As we were signing off, he added, “just ask yourself: what is possibly the worst thing that can happen to you if your start-up doesn’t take off? You can always update your CV and apply for another job. Or better: you start another start-up…”


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